img { max-width: 560px; width: expression (this.width >560 ? 560: true); }

Celebrating Imagination and the Wonderful, Wild Ride that is Life

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Tutorial: Equilateral Triangle Blocks for the White Star Quilt

Hi friends!

I promised that I would post a tutorial on how I made my White Star Quilt. (I am still searching for a better name, so all suggestions are welcome!) You may have seen it in my Instagram feed, or this may be your first sighting. Either way, as an attempt to thank everyone who liked and commented on my quilt, I decided to share my tricks for this very fun, easy, and adaptable technique.

This quilt was a true labor of love for me over the past few years. It is the first quilt that I completely designed myself, going with my instincts, and making changes as I went. This has turned out to be the way I do things a lot of the time. I do a lot of thinking and planning when I am designing a quilt, but I like to leave some room for spontaneity and change as I go on. Who knows what idea is lurking in the doorway just waiting to add the spark I've been looking for!

This tutorial will show you how to make the colorful pieced background for your own version of this quilt. My quilt is quite large, but you don't need to super size yours! Someone suggested a version made with Christmas fabrics would be neat, and I wholeheartedly agree! You can definitely make it your own depending on the fabrics you use. This is definitely a "let loose and have fun" technique. So don't sweat it!

The reason I am not giving you the plans to make the entire quilt can be seen in the following photos. It was darn hard. I decided that I wanted my star made entirely out of equilateral triangles, just like the background. That, coupled with the fact that it is supersized, is a bit more than a simple tutorial can handle.

So, my advice is as follows: if you want to give this a go and maybe make a cool wall hanging, throw quilt, or even go for the big kahuna, plan on using the pattern for a simple nine patch star of your choice as your white star and skip the piecing of those parts. The excitement really lies in that background...which really turns it into the foreground, don't ya think? There's nothing negative about that negative space!

Essentially this technique results in made fabric. The very first step is determining the size of the pieces of made fabric you will need for each background section of your quilt. For example, if you are using a nine patch star pattern similar to the one below, and you wish your finished quilt to be 60 inches square, then each section of made fabric should be at least 21" square for the four corners. (I would add even more than that for trimming purposes.) Additionally you will need sections of made fabric that are at least 21" along the top edge and through the center of the triangle point backgrounds. **TIP: I find it easiest to make a paper template for these sections to ensure you make them the correct size.**

Each made fabric section will be comprised of triangle units, or log cabin triangles. You will be making strip sets of triangles which when sewn together will be the size needed for each of your star background sections. This is where the fun begins!

To use this technique I purchased a 60 degree ruler (also known as an equilateral triangle ruler). The one I highly recommend is the one pictured below from Creative Grids. It has the non slip qualities that all their rulers do, plenty of measurement lines, and a clipped top point for making aligning your pieces nice and easy.

Alternatively, if your strip cutting ruler has one, you can utilize the 60 degree line on that. This especially makes sense if you aren't going to spend too much time with this technique, or if you're making a small quilt.

This is a wonderful technique for using up scraps! Whether you choose to use scraps or yardage, your first step is to cut a variety of strip widths from each fabric. I cut strips ranging from 1 1/2" to 4 1/2". If you are not making a large quilt you may want to keep your strips on the smaller side for scale. But remember: the skinnier the strips you use, the more piecing that will need to be done! I cut strips as I went along, starting out with one in each width from each fabric. This way I avoided wasting any fabric.

The technique is very simple. In many ways you are creating a log cabin triangle. Your first step is to cut a starting triangle out of one of your wider strips. I find it best to vary the size of your starting triangles for an overall scrappier and complex look. Here are examples of triangles being cut with both style of ruler.

The next step is to add a strip to one side. I don't measure. Just eyeball it, making sure that there is enough fabric overhang for trimming later. If you come up short, Trim the edge off and add another triangle to that end. It will look even better!

Stitch the pieces together with a quarter inch seam. Press the seam toward the newly added strip. Throughout this process it is very important that you press your fabric without stretching it. Since you are working with triangles there are a lot of bias edges and a tendency to stretch more than usual.

After pressing, use your ruler to trim the triangle so all of the edges are even. This is where the Creative Grids ruler or a similar one with markings can be very helpful. Instead of "squaring up", you're "triangle-ing up"!

Continue adding strips to the triangle unit. Don't think too hard about width of strip or which fabric you choose. The overall effect works best when things look pretty random. It's also best if you don't go around and around the triangle in a true log cabin style. Just piece whichever strip on whichever side that makes you happy with the result. It can even be fun to piece smaller scraps together to make a strip here and there, just to add to the randomness.

I highly recommend chain piecing triangle units. The job moves much faster, and you will add to the scrappiness by using a different fabric with each triangle.

Once you have created a few triangles, you can start joining them together. Lay them next to each other in the way they will be joined, and determine if you want to trim them to the same size or add strips as needed. You can see that my two triangles are not the same size. Instead of trimming the larger triangle, I opted to add a strip to the other triangle.

Sew the triangle units together and press. Continue to add triangle units until you have reached the width needed for your made fabric section.

Continue creating triangle units and sewing them into rows. Sew these rows together to create a piece of made fabric the correct size for your star backing section. Cut the made fabric and set aside. When all of your sections are complete, sew together your star just as you would normally.

You may notice that my original quilt has a border added to make the star "float" within the background. In order to do this, I first measured the top as I would for any border. Then I created a made fabric strip out of triangle units that was larger than the length and double the border width that I needed. I trimmed the made fabric to the correct length and cut it lengthwise into two pieces. Each of these pieces served as the top or bottom border. I followed the same procedure to make the left and right border strips. Below is what the strips look like before attaching them to the quilt.

I hope you enjoy this technique. If you have any questions, go ahead and ask! All I ask is that you tag me @alanedaviscreates in your makes. I truly enjoy seeing what everyone else is making. It's so inspiring!


  1. Your quilt looks so wonderful! Did you submit it for Quiltcon?

    1. Thank you, Nicole! I’m sad that I didn’t make the deadline since I ran out of time to quilt it. I would have loved to enter it!!!


I love to hear your comments! Thanks for visiting :)

Evidence of a Life